A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown  at sacred-texts.com
eze 37:1THE VISION OF DRY BONES REVIVIFIED, SYMBOLIZING ISRAEL'S DEATH AND RESURRECTION. (Eze. 37:1-28)
carried . . . in the spirit--The matters transacted, therefore, were not literal, but in vision.
the valley--probably that by the Chebar (Eze 3:22). The valley represents Mesopotamia, the scene of Israel's sojourn in her state of national deadness.
eze 37:2dry--bleached by long exposure to the atmosphere.
eze 37:3can these bones live? . . . thou knowest--implying that, humanly speaking, they could not; but faith leaves the question of possibility to rest with God, with whom nothing is impossible (Deu 32:39). An image of Christian faith which believes in the coming general resurrection of the dead, in spite of all appearances against it, because God has said it (Joh 5:21; Rom 4:17; Co2 1:9).
eze 37:4Prophesy--Proclaim God's quickening word to them. On account of this innate power of the divine word to effect its end, prophets are said to do that which they prophesy as about to be done (Jer 1:10).
eze 37:5I . . . cause breath to enter into you--So Isa 26:19, containing the same vision, refers primarily to Israel's restoration. Compare as to God's renovation of the earth and all its creatures hereafter by His breath, Psa 104:30.
ye shall live--come to life again.
eze 37:6ye shall know that I am the Lord--by the actual proof of My divinity which I will give in reviving Israel.
eze 37:7noise--of the bones when coming in mutual collision. Perhaps referring to the decree of Cyrus, or the noise of the Jews' exultation at their deliverance and return.
bones came together--literally, "ye bones came together"; as in Jer 49:11 (Hebrew), "ye widows of thine shall trust in Me." The second person puts the scene vividly before one's eyes, for the whole resurrection scene is a prophecy in action to render more palpably to the people the prophecy in word (Eze 37:21).
eze 37:8So far, they were only cohering in order as unsightly skeletons. The next step, that of covering them successively with sinews, skin, and flesh, gives them beauty; but still "no breath" of life in them. This may imply that Israel hereafter, as at the restoration from Babylon was the case in part, shall return to Judea unconverted at first (Zac 13:8-9). Spiritually: a man may assume all the semblances of spiritual life, yet have none, and so be dead before God.
eze 37:9wind--rather, the spirit of life or life-breath (Margin). For it is distinct from "the four winds" from which it is summoned.
from the four winds--implying that Israel is to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth (Isa 43:5-6; Jer 31:8), even as they were "scattered into all the winds" (Eze 5:10; Eze 12:14; Eze 17:21; compare Rev 7:1, Rev 7:4).
eze 37:10Such honor God gives to the divine word, even in the mouth of a man. How much more when in the mouth of the Son of God! (Joh 5:25-29). Though this chapter does not directly prove the resurrection of the dead, it does so indirectly; for it takes for granted the future fact as one recognized by believing Jews, and so made the image of their national restoration (so Isa 25:8; Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2; Hos 6:2; Hos 13:14; compare Note, see on Eze 37:12).
eze 37:11Our bones are dried-- (Psa 141:7), explained by "our hope is lost" (Isa 49:14); our national state is as hopeless of resuscitation, as marrowless bones are of reanimation.
cut off for our parts--that is, so far as we are concerned. There is nothing in us to give hope, like a withered branch "cut off" from a tree, or a limb from the body.
eze 37:12my people--in antithesis to "for our parts" (Eze 37:11). The hope that is utterly gone, if looking at themselves, is sure for them in God, because He regards them as His people. Their covenant relation to God ensures His not letting death permanently reign over them. Christ makes the same principle the ground on which the literal resurrection rests. God had said, "I am the God of Abraham," &c.; God, by taking the patriarchs as His, undertook to do for them all that Omnipotence can perform: He, being the ever living God, is necessarily the God of, not dead, but living persons, that is, of those whose bodies His covenant love binds Him to raise again. He can--and because He can--He will--He must [FAIRBAIRN]. He calls them "My people" when receiving them into favor; but "thy people," in addressing His servant, as if He would put them away from Him (Eze 13:17; Eze 33:2; Exo 32:7).
out of your graves--out of your politically dead state, primarily in Babylon, finally hereafter in all lands (compare Eze 6:8; Hos 13:14). The Jews regarded the lands of their captivity and dispersion as their "graves"; their restoration was to be as "life from the dead" (Rom 11:15). Before, the bones were in the open plain (Eze 37:1-2); now, in the graves, that is, some of the Jews were in the graves of actual captivity, others at large but dispersed. Both alike were nationally dead.
eze 37:16stick--alluding to Num 17:2, the tribal rod. The union of the two rods was a prophecy in action of the brotherly union which is to reunite the ten tribes and Judah. As their severance under Jeroboam was fraught with the greatest evil to the covenant-people, so the first result of both being joined by the spirit of life to God is that they become joined to one another under the one covenant King, Messiah-David.
Judah, and . . . children of Israel his companions--that is, Judah and, besides Benjamin and Levi, those who had joined themselves to him of Ephraim, Manasseh, Simeon, Asher, Zebulun, Issachar, as having the temple and lawful priesthood in his borders (Ch2 11:12-13, Ch2 11:16; Ch2 15:9; Ch2 30:11, Ch2 30:18). The latter became identified with Judah after the carrying away of the ten tribes, and returned with Judah from Babylon, and so shall be associated with that tribe at the future restoration.
For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim--Ephraim's posterity took the lead, not only of the other descendants of Joseph (compare Eze 37:19), but of the ten tribes of Israel. For four hundred years, during the period of the judges, with Manasseh and Benjamin, its dependent tribes, it had formerly taken the lead: Shiloh was its religious capital; Shechem, its civil capital. God had transferred the birthright from Reuben (for dishonoring his father's bed) to Joseph, whose representative, Ephraim, though the younger, was made (Gen 48:19; Ch1 5:1). From its pre-eminence "Israel" is attached to it as "companions." The "all" in this case, not in that of Judah, which has only attached as "companions" the children of Israel" (that is, some of them, namely, those who followed the fortunes of Judah), implies that the bulk of the ten tribes did not return at the restoration from Babylon, but are distinct from Judah, until the coming union with it at the restoration.
eze 37:18God does not explain the symbolical prophecy until the Jews have been stimulated by the type to consult the prophet.
eze 37:19The union effected at the restoration from Babylon embraced but comparatively few of Israel; a future complete fulfilment must therefore be looked for.
stick of Joseph . . . in the hand of Ephraim--Ephraim, of the descendants of Joseph, had exercised the rule among the ten tribes: that rule, symbolized by the "stick," was now to be withdrawn from him, and to be made one with the other, Judah's rule, in God's hand.
them--the "stick of Joseph," would strictly require "it"; but Ezekiel expresses the sense, namely, the ten tribes who were subject to it.
with him--that is, Judah; or "it," that is, the stick of Judah.
eze 37:22one nation-- (Isa 11:13; Jer 3:18; Hos 1:11).
one king--not Zerubbabel, who was not a king either in fact or name, and who ruled over but a few Jews, and that only for a few years; whereas the King here reigns for ever. MESSIAH is meant (Eze 34:23-24). The union of Judah and Israel under King Messiah symbolizes the union of Jews and Gentiles under Him, partly now, perfectly hereafter (Eze 37:24; Joh 10:16).
eze 37:23(Eze 36:25).
out of . . . their dwelling-places-- (Eze 36:28, Eze 36:33). I will remove them from the scene of their idolatries to dwell in their own land, and to serve idols no more.
eze 37:24David--Messiah (See on Eze 34:23-24).
eze 37:25for ever-- (Isa 60:21; Joe 3:20; Amo 9:15).
eze 37:26covenant of peace--better than the old legal covenant, because an unchangeable covenant of grace (Eze 34:25; Isa 55:3; Jer 32:40).
I will place them--set them in an established position; no longer unsettled as heretofore.
my sanctuary--the temple of God; spiritual in the heart of all true followers of Messiah (Co2 6:16); and, in some "literal" sense, in the restored Israel (Eze. 40:1-44:31).
eze 37:27My tabernacle . . . with them--as foretold (Gen 9:27); Joh 1:14, "The Word . . . dwelt among us" (literally, "tabernacled"); first, in humiliation; hereafter, in manifested glory (Rev 21:3).
eze 37:28(Eze 36:23).
sanctify Israel--set it apart as holy unto Myself and inviolable (Exo 19:5-6).
The objections to a literal interpretation of the prophecy are--(1) The ideal nature of the name Gog, which is the root of Magog, the only kindred name found in Scripture or history. (2) The nations congregated are selected from places most distant from Israel, and from one another, and therefore most unlikely to act in concert (Persians and Libyans, &c.). (3) The whole spoil of Israel could not have given a handful to a tithe of their number, or maintained the myriads of invaders a single day (Eze 38:12-13). (4) The wood of their invaders' weapons was to serve for fuel to Israel for seven years! And all Israel were to take seven months in burying the dead! Supposing a million of Israelites to bury each two corpses a day, the aggregate buried in the hundred eighty working days of the seven months would be three hundred sixty millions of corpses! Then the pestilential vapors from such masses of victims before they were all buried! What Israelite could live in such an atmosphere? (5) The scene of the Lord's controversy here is different from that in Isa 34:6, Edom, which creates a discrepancy. (But probably a different judgment is alluded to). (6) The gross carnality of the representation of God's dealings with His adversaries is inconsistent with Messianic times. It therefore requires a non-literal interpretation. The prophetical delineations of the divine principles of government are thrown into the familiar forms of Old Testament relations. The final triumph of Messiah's truth over the most distant and barbarous nations is represented as a literal conflict on a gigantic scale, Israel being the battlefield, ending in the complete triumph of Israel's anointed King, the Saviour of the world. It is a prophetical parable [FAIRBAIRN]. However, though the details are not literal, the distinctiveness in this picture, characterizing also parallel descriptions in writers less ideally picturesque than Ezekiel, gives probability to a more definite and generally literal interpretation. The awful desolations caused in Judea by Antiochus Epiphanes, of Syria (1 Maccabees; and PORPHYRY, quoted by JEROME on Ezekiel), his defilement of Jehovah's temple by sacrificing swine and sprinkling the altar with the broth, and setting up the altar of Jupiter Olympius, seem to be an earnest of the final desolations to be caused by Antichrist in Israel, previous to His overthrow by the Lord Himself, coming to reign (compare Dan. 8:10-26; Dan 11:21-45; Dan 12:1; Zac 13:9; Zac 14:2-3). GROTIUS explains Gog as a name taken from Gyges, king of Lydia; and Magog as Syria, in which was a city called Magag [PLINY, 5.28]. What Ezekiel stated more generally, Rev 20:7-9 states more definitely as to the anti-Christian confederacy which is to assail the beloved city.